PICO RIVERA (CBSLA) — The anniversary of the Allied invasion of Normandy — more commonly known as D-Day — happened 75 years ago tomorrow.
Today, here and abroad, there were many remembrances as a walk-up to that historic day.
It was, reports CBS2/KCAL9’s Joy Benedict, a remembrance for for legends.
Bot for Arthur Valenzuela, he didn’t need a reminder of what happened that day. Because he lived it.
“We landed there behind enemy lines,” he says.
Valenzuela flew into Normandy on a military glider.
“A glider is a plane that has no motor,” he explains. “The pilot would try and stop the glider, he would hit a tree or anything — so we could get out right away.”
On D-Day he landed in a field.
“When we land, [we] run for cover the Germans all over,” he recalls.
The battle in Normandy lasted 30 days and nights but this veteran mostly remembers the nights.
“Oh, the rain,” Valenzuela recalls, “Raining. and it was cold. God, you’d just kneel down and cover up whenever you can.”
At 96 years old, some of the details of his time in Normandy are now lost. He doesn’t even remember how many days he was there. But he does remember how he got out.
“We ran back for cover and I got hit. I went down,” he says.
Valenzuela was lucky to be alive.
“Medics were carrying me out of there you know, and I remember the artillery bombs all around and telling the medics to leave me alone — for them to run for cover.”
But they wouldn’t leave his side.
“I’m telling you they were brave,” he says.
Valenzuela was shot in the back and earned a Purple Heart. He shows off the hardware of his military life including a Parachute Badge.
Decades later that hardware sits proudly on the mantle of his Pico Riviera home — a reminder of the past and the epic fight.
“I was fighting for my country, fighting for my family,” Valenzuela says.
And fighting for the freedom we’ve held, and enjoyed, for 75 years.